Overcome Fear by Switching up the “What if’s”
Today, I found myself talking with a 34-year-old man who was looking for career direction. He explained that he saw himself going to college despite not having his high school diploma. We discussed interests and pre-requisites he already had. After some discussion, we came to an understanding that it was fear that kept him from taking steps towards his goals. He shared: “What if I get into the program and it’s not what I want? What if I waste my money? What if I’m not successful? What if I can’t do it and then I’m no further ahead?” I have been there so many times myself and I’m sure we all have.
It is so easy to get caught up in the negative “what ifs“. I said to him, “Suppose we changed the perspective? What if the program was what you want? What if it was a small investment towards a rewarding career? What if you were successful? What if you can do it?” He didn’t say anything for a moment and I could see, by the look in his eyes, that he was processing what I said.
Before he found words, I continued on and brought back some of his “what ifs“. “What if you start the program and it is not what you want? What then? You will know more about yourself than you do now. Will that still be a waste? You will have earned credits and learning to use for advanced standing to transfer into something else. Maturity and wisdom will come from the growth of your mind. If you don’t find success, you will have a better understanding of what you need to find it. Wouldn’t that be success in itself? Even if you don’t complete it, you will be much further ahead in so many ways. Don’t let that fear of the “what if’s”, I said, “get in the way of making valuable steps toward your goals”.
“I didn’t think of it like that”, he said with a smile. “You’re right. What it works? What if it doesn’t? Either way, I will start to figure it out”. And with that, he shook my hand and left with a lot less fear and lot more confidence in the direction he was taking.